You know...this is going to sound really
weird, coming from me. I have, traditionally, flatout hated
Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I didn't like it from the very first time I used it (somewhere around version 3.x, I believe), but between the time that Netscape folded up into bloated uselessness with Version 6 and the time that I discovered Mozilla, I used it because...well, that's all there was. IE was bloated, slow, and flatout primitive--not to mention buggy as hell and so full of security holes it was damnear useless. I won't even begin
to address the issue of how non-compliant it was with even the most basic W3C standards. Mozilla and, later, Firefox were clearly superior in every way from tabbed browsing to speed and accuracy of page rendering to extensibility.
But then the Mozilla Foundation put out Firefox 1.5, which has to be one of the biggest pieces of software shit I've ever messed with. And Microsoft put out the first bta of Internet Explorer 7...which was one of the best
pieces of software I've ever messed with.
Now you say: Wait a second, Pegritz. You just said you liked
the beta of Internet Explorer 7?
Yes, I did. Internet Explorer 7 is flatout awesome. Finally
, after...what, six or seven years?--the MS has managed to pull their heads out of their asses
and produce a thoroughly modern browser. They've finally caught on to basic, world-shattering concepts such as "tabbed browsing" and "basic security" that the Mozilla Foundation has been working with for years: Internet Explorer 7 is the result of their playing catch-up. And, dear lord...I think they may have--on many counts--actually surpassed Firefox. I may well become one of the first people to switch back to IE from Firefox now that Microsoft has actually produced a Real Freakin' Browser.
We'll get to why it's awesome in a moment. But first, let me recap--briefly--why I even bothered to give the IE7 beta a go in the first place. I've loved Firefox since I first started working with it about a year or two ago. I started using it while it was still in beta, and it was just amazing. It rendered pages with lightning speed, was very standards compliant, and...man, all those great extensions! And it was so
good on memory. Firefox was so infinitely superior to IE6 and lower it wasn't even funny. So what if it didn't render a number of sites that absolutely needed IE because of stupid ActiveX controls or whatnot? Those sites could kiss my ass.
couldn't be as unstable as Firefox 1.5.
And it wasn't. And I actually liked
Check it out:
Internet Explorer 7--surprise, surprise!--actually supports tabbed browsing...at last.
But that's just to be expected. It renders pages just as quickly as Firefox now, and does just as good a job (for the most part: there are still bugs here and there, but, remember, it is
still a beta release). But, again, that's just something you'd expect from any
browser today. But here's where it gets good:
IE7 features a VERY useful favorites manager with an integrated RSS feed reader that makes it simple to view feeds, organize offline bookmarks, and so forth. It also features a number of awesome printing enhancements that make it easier to print out webpages by forcing them to fit on standard letter-sized paper. It also allows you to save offline copies of webpages in MHTML format, much like Firefox's Scrapbook extension (which I use constantly
And there are security enhancements out the wazoo. Forget the anti-phishing elements--I'm talking about basic security functionality like reliable support for SSL and HTTPS protocols, as well as a true built-in pop-up blocker that can be configured on the fly to deal with various different sites' requirements.
To put it simply...Internet Explorer 7 just does what I need a browser to do: browse reliably, save pages, manage bookmarks, and give me control over security settings. The one thing it does not
do is natively block ads, but Norton Internet Security features its own IE add-in that works a lot like the AdBlock Firefox extension. But the bottom line is: IE7 DOES NOT CRASH EVERY FIVE FRIGGIN' MINUTES. Oh, sure, I've encountered a few crashes now and again, but here's the cool thing: if I have several individual IE7 windows open at a time and one of them goes belly-up in the tank, it doesn't bring the other windows down with it, as each window runs in its own separate process.
Now, as to memory consumption...IE7 is a bit of a memory hog, too: it usually eats up about 128mb of memory when I have it running. But even so, that's still less than Firefox--which usually peaks out at 200mb these days. That's ludicrous. Mind you, I now have 2gb of memory in my computer, so I have plenty of elbow room to spare when it comes to memory usage (I can run the entire Adobe Creative Suite 2 these days without dipping below 500mb free)...but that's not the point. The point is: Firefox, for some reason that no one on earth can seem to track down, just consumes an utterly unreasonable amount of memory for what it does. Period. And, as I've said in the past, the Mozilla Project doesn't seem to have any idea how to fix that. It's a clear case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
Of course, when Firefox 2.0 comes out, I'll jump right on it to see how well it works. I would hope
a lot of the product's instability and memory issues will be dealt with...but I honestly doubt it. I've been losing more and more faith in the Mozilla Project every damned day. At least the new IE has the full development and maintenance dedication of Microsoft behind it, which should mean much quicker updates and security patches if necessary. At least until Firefox gets its act together, it's a great alternative.
So, want to try the IE7 beta, too? The newest release (as of March 20th) is available here
. It only works on XP SP2, however.